The Great Unequalizer

As the [COVID-19] pandemic unfolded, city data revealed that Latinos have the highest Covid-19 infection rates, while Black people have the highest death rates. Chicago isn’t an outlier in these disparities. Nationally, 1 in 1,250 Black Americans has died of Covid-19 compared to 1 in 2,800 white Americans as of early August, according to the APM Research Lab, a nonpartisan research group. But health disparities troubled Chicago long before Covid-19. There’s a large life expectancy gap between predominantly white neighborhoods such as Streeterville (life expectancy: 90 years) and Black neighborhoods such as West Garfield Park (life expectancy: 68 years), according to 2015 data from the City Health Dashboard. Racism shows up in doctors’ offices, too. Nearly half of medical students surveyed believed that Black people have thicker skin, faster-coagulating blood, and/or less sensitive nerve endings than white people, according to a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science.